In 2016, Zika virus spread rapidly throughout the Americas after its initial appearance in Brazil in May 2015, spreading to more than 50 countries and territories in Latin America, the Pacific and the Caribbean-and Florida.
Zika, the first mosquito-borne flavivirus found to be also sexually transmissible and to cause birth defects, spread quickly. Before 2015, little was known about Zika apart from reports of earlier small outbreaks in Micronesia and French Polynesia. But the outbreak in Brazil’s northeast drew global notice and apprehension as graphic images of newborns with microcephaly, or smaller than normal heads, appeared widely. The infants were severely malformed, with tiny heads containing brains that had stopped growing.
People infected by Zika virus usually have mild symptoms that normally last for two to seven days and can include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headaches. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available. The virus is now known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
On February 2016 the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency, but late in November, the W.H.O. declared that Zika was no longer an emergency and now consider Zika to be a long-term public health challenge. Many experts have criticized that decision as premature.
Source: Newsweek, International New York Times, W.H.O.